Category Archives: Idol-Actors – Part One: Common Stuff
What’s the saying? “Masters don’t just fall from the sky.” Meaning that one can’t expect others and oneself to be perfect at something from the get-go. Well, that’s certainly true; most definitely when it comes to acting.
Idol-Actors are surely a manifested part of the South Korean drama industry. Professionals in singing, dancing, occasionally rapping and fan service are those people also trained in acting, the general effect of our body language on others and melodic talking. The way they behave in variety shows, talking shows or during interviews is mostly a rehearsed act of politeness, smiles and just the right amount of weirdness, polished and perfected over years and years of practice. If you think about it that way, they seem to have the best requirements for being comparatively good actors – since it’s all they do whenever they’re in front of a camera.
It is, however, a completely different thing to act as a, let’s say, polished edition of oneself on a daily basis or an absolutely non-related character in a drama or movie. So here’s the thing: I appreciate and understand that Idols, especially when they’re getting older, have their debut in the acting industry. It is a good way to secure ones future while still doing what they like because, let’s face it, Idols do have an expiration date. Actors, on the other hand, are still needed when they’re old and grey. Sure, they probably won’t play the lead characters anymore since these spots are usually reserved for the younger generation but they sure as hell can play other important roles.
So do I like Idol-Actors? Well, that depends on their acting talent and diligence. The biggest problem is usually either the intention of the on-set director who decided to let them participate in the drama or the company behind the Idol. Was the Idol properly cast and chosen because they delivered a promising audition or did they get the spot to earn their fans as loyal viewers? (You can mostly tell which one it was by comparing the proportion between lines and face time – if the Idol has more close-ups and camera moments than actual script, you can be almost 100% sure that they were cast for the ‘face’ and viewer ratings.) Is the Idol motivated by itself or rather urged to be motivated by their company? (Yes, that is a thing, although it doesn’t happen that often. Sometimes though, you can tell that the Idol feels extremely burdened and queasy in front of the camera – as if to run away as soon as the opportunity arises.)
The thing about main spots: As much as I appreciate new faces and talents though, here’s my complaint: If you cast an Idol for your drama or movie and if said Idol is acting for the first time in its career, why would you give that Idol a lead role? I understand that viewer ratings are important. I understand that Idol-fans are a great way to achieve high numbers. I understand that certain faces have a certain value. What I don’t understand, however, is how some on-set directors can so bravely ignore the fact that a pretty face does not make up for a bad acting performance! I like eye candies as much as every other person but I’m not watching my dramas just for the pure pleasure of gazing at those peoples beauty! It’s about the plot (at least mostly) and its thrill; about the characters and their developments and relationships; about the story line and the costumes and the background music and whatnot. A good drama is a consistent and creamy mix out of all those details combined. One pretty face that cannot act, however, is like a sip of too much milk: Everything gets watered down.
Don’t underestimate the power of supportive characters – key word being the ‘Second-somewhat-syndrome’! I’m not saying there aren’t Idols who didn’t deserve their lead roles when they got them, oh no! I’m all open and happy to be impressed when it’s called for. Of course I’ve seen Idols which’s first performances in a drama/movie where so amazing that I wondered why they didn’t pursue an acting career to begin with. (One that comes to mind is Park Yoo Chun, member of Korean boy band JYJ, former TVXQ. His first drama character ever was the lead guy in “Sungkyunkwan Scandal” and dammit if I wasn’t impressed! Even though I’m not even his or his groups fan.) BUT, and let me repeat myself here, don’t underestimate the power of supportive characters. They are what makes the story whole, diverse and more realistic. They are, sometimes, more relatable than the protagonists ever could be because they’re not “special” in that dramatic and exaggerated kind of way but humane and down to earth and just real. They’re funny and cute and, oftentimes, awesome friends with a consistent and reliable shoulder to cry and lean on.